Application integration is the process of facilitating independently developed applications to work together.
Generally, the required abilities of application integration include:
- Keeping separate data copies consistent.
- Directing the integrated flow of numerous activities executed by disparate applications.
- Providing access to data and functions from independent applications through a single user interface or application service.
Application integration helps close the gap between existing on-site systems and the ever-evolving cloud-based enterprise applications. This allows businesses to operate more effectively and more efficiently than ever before.
Concepts of Application Integration
Organisations that are considering moving forward with application integration must understand the following components associated with it.
Application Programming Interface (API)
APIs are sets of functions and procedures that determine how software components interact. Developers can easily and quickly access the functionality of other software through distinct data structures. APIs are a popular method of integrating applications, data, and services.
Events and actions
An event is an occurrence within your connected applications. The event can be as simple as a payment being sent or received. An event triggers an action or series of actions. Actions can include standard functionality such as creating, retrieving, or updating data sets. They can also be application-specific, like creating a new case.
Data mapping defines the information exchange to use. It simplifies data exporting processes for easier grouping and analysis.
Application Integration vs Data Integration
In conversations regarding integrated applications and services in business settings, “application integration” and “data integration” are often used interchangeably. However, the concept and use cases behind these processes are different.
What is Data Integration?
We know that application integration helps independently developed applications work together. Data integration involves locating and retrieving information from various sources and combining that information into a unified system. An extensive amount of data is collected over time, stored, and eventually processed in batches. It is commonly used after processes have already been completed, so it is not necessarily conducted in real-time.
It can provide administrators with the data portability needed to analyse application performance, eliminate redundancies, and ensure high-quality data consistency. It also allows your business to engage with your leads and prospects in the right way and at the right time, meaning you get the most out of every interaction with prospects.
How does Application Integration differ from Data Integration?
Application integration directly links several applications at a functional level in near real-time. Organisations can create dynamic, highly adaptable applications and services. Data integration does not do this. Additionally, it does not operate in real-time.
The importance of Application Integration to organisations
Many companies use enterprise applications like ERPs and billing systems to facilitate business processes. Application integrations help better streamline operations and allow enterprises to execute jobs more effectively and efficiently. The main advantages of application integration to organisations are as follows:
Eliminate Data Silos
Applications designed by different organisations are incompatible and cannot communicate with each other without using additional technology. Integration software bridges the gap between various enterprise applications. It doesn’t matter if the applications are on-site or cloud-based.
Data silos slow business operations and prevent effective data sharing. As a result, it remains isolated, however, Application integration software eliminates data silos and enables efficient use of data.
Delays in technology deployment often lead to lower ROIs. Companies can streamline business processes through various integrating applications, reduce time-to-market, and increase their ROI. Additionally, application integration tools automatically convert data from any format to the correct format.
Application integrations help facilitate smooth data transfer through various systems and workflows to support productivity.
Application integration allows for point-to-point integration and enhances data visibility, enabling businesses to observe and measure data. Additionally, businesses can utilise data to efficiently address customer expectations and receive a broader view of business activities.
Benefits of Application Integration software
Modern application integration software connects data and transforms it to a format compatible with any enterprise’s IT architecture to streamline the process.
For example, an integrated business network may take an order from an e-commerce gateway, verify the data and transform it into a format compatible with their back-end ERP for processing. Then, the software connects to the business’s EDI system for logistics and delivery, moves the data to the finance system to process payment and invoicing and then sync all the customer order information seamlessly into their CRM.
The benefits of applications integration include the following:
- Faster GTM – Application integration allows businesses to eliminate delays and expedite ROI.
- Process Automation – Businesses can seamlessly hand off data among various systems and workflows to support automation.
- Concurrent Processing – Application integration allows multiple processes performing similar work to happen simultaneously. Businesses can handle multiple orders in real-time while facilitating batch processing.
- Visibility – Businesses can complete end-to-end integration while increasing visibility to view, track, and report on data throughout the workflow.
- Scalability – Application integration software allows organisations to grow in new ways and leverage technologies to get there.
Synchronous vs Asynchronous communication
Application integration is beneficial in various industries. However, integration cannot be effective without proper communication. Depending on the organisation’s needs, communication can either be synchronous, asynchronous or both.
- Synchronous communication is when a sender application sends a request to a receiver application. The sender application must then wait for a reply before continuing processing.
- Asynchronous communication is when a sender application sends a request to a receiver application and continues processing before receiving a response.
Application Integration platforms – MuleSoft
Knowing what application integration is and its benefits are only half the battle. Finding a suitable platform is the next step.
MuleSoft offers a B2B application delivery network that links data, applications and devices with APIs. The vendor allows organisations to improve their applications through integration while also providing API connectivity to many on-site and cloud-based applications and systems. MuleSoft provides traditional and Integration Platform as a Service products with a growing capabilities portfolio.
With MuleSoft, enterprises may design and build APIs to run anywhere with automated security and threat protection at every layer.
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